A converted biodiesel minibus set off on a 35-state tour in January, launching the Hemp Road Trip, a nationwide campaign to bring attention to this beneficial yet controversial crop. Professor Tom Hammett arranged for the team’s educational bus to stop in Blacksburg and welcomed hemp farmer Rick Trojan, one of the trip’s four-person team, to present to his SBIO 3454 (Society, Sustainable Biomaterials, and Energy) class.

Trojan’s talk included a brief overview of hemp as a crop, how it was used in our country’s past, its recent resurgence, and some of its major uses. He also emphasized that the U.S. is the largest consumer worldwide of hemp, yet industrial hemp production has not been allowed in this country for over 60 years. The Hemp Road Trip seeks support for the passage of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would remove all restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp and declassify it as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.

Students were invited to visit the bus, parked outside Cheatham Hall, to view displays and examples of hemp products, ranging from clothing to skin care products and even books printed on hemp paper. “As a sustainable biomaterial, hemp has the potential to protect our natural resources and reduce our use of fossil fuels, which will result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions, as well as protect our land, soil, and air,” Hammett said.